Are you still dealing with fear?

September 16, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
(1 John 4:18 (ESV))

Do you fear the future?

Exactly what do you fear?

If you profess a faith in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, is fear really a part of that profession of faith? We know that it shouldn’t be, but are you truly able to claim that you have no fear because of what Jesus did for you on the cross? We are supposed to look to Jesus and leave everything at the foot of the cross, but our human nature makes us look back. Why do we take our eyes off of the single best thing that gives us eternal grace and look back at what is decaying and dying? What makes us cling to our sin and this world when we should cling only to Jesus?

I can understand how someone can be fearful at this time in history. For those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, and who faithfully spend time in God’s Word, the events transpiring in the world sound all too familiar to the beginnings of what is foretold in Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation. If we spend time in God’s Word, the events occurring around us should give us hope of His soon return. The sad truth is that very few people who profess a faith in Jesus hear or read anything from God’s Word except for what they are spoon fed on Sunday morning.

How can we grow in our faith if we are still being spoon fed? How can we mature in our understanding if we don’t read and study on our own? How can we test whether something is true if we don’t examine the Scriptures to seek the truth? Each of us should take a lesson from the Berean Jews.

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
(Acts 17:11 (NIV))

Are there certain parts of God’s Word that you avoid because you don’t like what they say? Do they make you feel uneasy? That is called conviction! We simply can’t ignore parts of God’s Word because it makes us feel uneasy.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Are you thoroughly equipped for every good work?

Are you thoroughly equipped with the knowledge that is contained within God’s Word?

Are you thoroughly equipped so that you have nothing to fear?

Are you still dealing with fear?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Have you answered the call?

August 12, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
(Romans 8:28 (NIV))

This verse came to mind earlier today because of something that my family has experienced, but God had a different direction for me to write about.

With everything that is going on in the world, many people are probably asking how can God work this for good for those who love Him? I completely understand the concern. Nothing in this world makes sense anymore. Good is being called evil and evil is being called good. We have all seen what happens to people who speak out against the insanity that just seems to be the new normal. In fact, I just read a brief news clip saying that a member of Congress has been banned from a particular social media platform simply because he was saying something contrary to the accepted insanity. This is just the latest example. There are countless preachers, teachers and evangelists who have been banned on various platforms simply for sharing God’s Word as it relates to current events.

The sad thing is that I don’t think that this is going to get any better!

I am now seeing people who I have never heard say much publicly about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit who are now confessing that they firmly believe that the time is at hand. Don’t get me wrong. These people were and are believers. They were just quiet individuals who simply lived their lives trying to live by God’s Word. Now they are sharing what their spirit is feeling.

What is your spirit feeling? Are you seeing the events transpiring in this world and shedding a tear because they break your heart? Are you at a loss for words and only the groanings of your spirit seem to ease the uncertainty that you see?

God is our refuge and strength,
     an ever-present help in trouble.
(Psalms 46:1 (NIV))

We need to remember this passage as the events unfold before us. I love the way that God’s Word leads us and guides us. Shortly after we are told that God is our refuge and strength, we are told to be still in His presence. Is God telling us to take refuge in Him and watch what He does? Is God telling us that after everything unfolds that He will be exalted? I realize that these are rhetorical questions, but sometimes we just need to be reminded of His majesty.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
     I will be exalted among the nations,
     I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 (NIV))

When we read Romans 8:28, we have a tendency to make it personal, especially when we are going through an individual struggle or trial. It truly doesn’t take much thought to know that in all things God does work for the good of all who love Him. That is all part of His plan. That is all part of His purpose that we have been called by. Jesus is that plan. Jesus is that good. Jesus is that purpose. You need to answer the call before it is too late.

Have you answered the call?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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Simply stretch out your arms in opposite directions and point!

August 11, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
     so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
     so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
(Psalms 103:11-12 (NIV))

Just how far is the east from the west?

Think about that for a moment. If you had the possibility of traveling in one direction forever and someone else could travel in the opposite direction forever, then you would begin to comprehend just how far the two can be from each other. In theory, no matter how far you go in one direction, you can still go even further. Now, combine the two directions and that concept and you begin to understand how far God has removed our transgressions away from us. Even if you take into consideration that we live on a globe, we still are faced with the unquestionable truth that you can never stop going east and you can never stop going west. It is a journey without end.

A journey without end!

Think back on your life. What is the one thing above all things that you have done that you wish you could undo, that you could forget ever happened? Now, imagine that God has separated you and that transgression, that sin, so far apart and never again to meet. It all came about through God’s plan for grace and mercy through His Son, Jesus. God, through your simple profession of faith, has completely removed not only that biggest sin, but all of your sins. It is now our prayer, each of us who have called upon the name of Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, to never turn back from our journey in the opposite direction from our sin.

The next time that Satan reminds you of your past and the sins that you have committed, remember just how far the east truly is from the west. Don’t let your past keep you from the righteousness that God is calling you toward. Simply stretch out your arms in opposite directions and point.

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Who do you say that He is?

July 30, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
(Mark 8:27 (NIV))

Who do you say that He is?

Jesus is still asking that question. Sometimes he may even ask it multiple times.

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
     Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
     Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
(John 21:17 (NIV))

Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” three times. Peter knew who Jesus was, yet, Peter felt that he had done something that had betrayed Jesus’ trust. He had denied Jesus three times. It is believed that Jesus asked this question once for each of the three times that Peter had denied Him. I think that it may go even deeper.

Peter knew who Jesus was. He knew of His teachings.

     Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
     Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV))

Peter knew that Jesus taught of forgiveness, yet Peter denied Him three times. It would not be difficult to imagine that Peter thought forgiveness could not be applied to him in his situation. In essence, Peter thought that he was beyond the forgiving grace given to him by Jesus. Peter’s understanding of Jesus was warped by his own insecurities and remorse.

Are we any different? We have all done things that we feel cannot be forgiven. We forget that Jesus offers grace and mercy to any and all who will accept it. We forget that this offer is freely given to anyone. We long to claim it, yet, when we are guilty of something that is horrible in our own eyes, we forget who Jesus is. We think that we cannot be forgiven because of what we have done.

Jesus is able to forgive all sin. He is the only begotten Son of God. As such, He has the authority to forgive sins. He has authority over sickness. He has authority over demons. He has authority over sin and death. Anything less is not Jesus. Anything less is a person of our own creation. He is either the Son of God or He is merely a man.

Who do you say that He is?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you able to pray to love like this?

July 29, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV))

Have you ever been at a loss for words?

I, like many of you, have read this passage countless times, but tonight, the simple yet magnificent beauty of this type of love left me without words. I had to read it many times and pray for insight. As humans, we like to think that we are capable of love, but when compared to this standard, we fall very short of the ideal that God has defined for us. Sadly, I didn’t even make it past the third word. How far did you make it before you started feeling something tugging at your spirit?

This passage defines for us the ideal love that God desires for us to possess, but it also acts as a measuring rod that we should use as a basis for our desires and our prayers to possess a love like the love of the Lord!

Have you heard of the concept of praying the scriptures? Basically you take a passage and you pray for that passage to be made manifest in your life. You stand firm in the truth and the power of scripture.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

I can’t think of a better passage to pray in order to be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Lord, I long to love as You love. Make me patient. Make me kind. I don’t want to be envious or boastful. Correct me when I am arrogant or rude. Lord, help me to put others first and myself last. Give me Your joy and Your peace so that I am not irritable or resentful. Lord, give me a heart that breaks when I see wrongdoing. Let me delight in Your truth and in those who know Your truth. Lord, give me the ability to bear all things for the truth of Your love. Instill in me a belief that all things work for Your good. Lord, give me the ability to hope when it appears that all hope is gone, and grant me the endurance to see Your love made manifest in all the earth!

For the second time tonight, I am at a loss for words because of the sheer power of such a prayer.

Are you able to love like this?

Are you able to pray to love like this?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Never leave your first love!

July 27, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
(Revelation 2:4 (NKJV))

The church at Ephesus did many things right, but it all came collapsing down with this single statement!

Have you ever wondered what they had left? Have you ever thought that they simply got in a routine of doing things that were righteous, but forgot the reasons behind why they did them? They did good works. They labored for the sake of the Gospel. They had learned patience and they hated evil. They could even spot false apostles, but what good did it do them if they had left their first love? They had forgotten the love of Jesus and without that love, everything is meaningless. They had faith. They had hope, but they no longer had love!

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV))

Without love, you soon find yourself focusing on the letter of the law and not the intent. The Pharisees focused on the letter of the law. Jesus came to show that God’s intent was love. In essence, when you lose love, you become a Pharisee, and you insist on telling others what to do while not doing it yourself. You create a double standard in which you judge others but seek grace for yourself. This is completely contrary to what Jesus taught.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV))

We are to love each other as we love ourselves!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8 (NIV))

It was out of love that Jesus came into the world. It was out of love that He taught. It was out of love that He went to the cross. His love covers all of our sins. What we are called to do is love others in such a way that they are covered in Christ! If you have forgotten how to love, then it is time to follow through on what Jesus told the church at Ephesus.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
(Revelation 2:5 (NKJV))

Never leave your first love!

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What do you know?

June 21, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
(Romans 8:28 (NIV))

This is a difficult thing for many people to grasp, for they see only the immediate results of things as they happen. Humanity does not have the luxury of being able to see the long term consequences of any given event or series of events.

All too often we jump to worldly conclusions and do not see the “God” scheme of things. No matter what we may face in this life, we must remember that God is in control. If we are His through the grace and mercy granted through His Son Jesus Christ, then our ultimate good is heaven. If that is true, then everything that happens in this world can be taken as a temporary situation. This is hard to fathom when a loved one faces death or when a country faces terrorism, but, we must remember that what we see in the physical world is only a small fraction of the battle that goes on in the spiritual world.

If we hold steadfast in our faith in Jesus, then we are assured of our “good.”

What do you know?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you acknowledge such great love?

May 31, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
(John 15:13 (NIV))

I know that this is a repeat, but some things are worth repeating.

It is that time of year when we remember those men and women who have given their lives for our country. I can’t attest to the relationships that each of these people had with Jesus, but I know one thing is certain. They valued the principles that placed the lives and well being of others above their own needs. Thankfully, I still see this in many people today.

There is a quote that I feel summarizes this willing sacrifice quite well.

“Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American G. I. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.”
Author: Unknown

Today, like every other day of the year, I am truly thankful for each type of sacrifice that has been made. I am prayerfully thankful for the grace and mercy that was freely given through the atoning blood of Jesus on the cross. For this I am eternally grateful.

I am also thankful for the men and women who have answered the call to defend the freedoms that we, as American citizens, have. It is through their sacrifice that we have the great opportunity to choose to worship Jesus as well as when, where and how. Sadly, there are people who reject both sacrifices. It is with humble heart that I present this request to the Body of Christ. The times are urgent. The need is great. We must be bold and do what we are called to do to spread the Gospel. We must be willing to lay down our lives so that others may know the freedoms that we know.

Do you acknowledge such great love?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What does your life show?

April 29, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
(Luke 6:27-31 (NIV))

What has happened to these basic tenants of life?

These words were written as directions on how to live life for those who placed the value of others above themselves. Today, we have become a society of “me” oriented, selfish people who seem to have only one thing on their minds – What do I get out of this?

Is this what Jesus came to this earth to teach us? Did He come to tell us to place ourselves above all others and to hold selfishness, lust, greed and power as our primary objectives for living?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10 (NIV))

How do we have a full life?

Take another look at the words of Luke 6:27-31. All of the actions that we are told to do have a very strong undertone to them. They all have the core fundamentals of love. This love is not the romantic type that our society has come to expect, but, rather, it is the self-sacrificing type of love that requires a spiritual commitment far above the hormonally induced “romantic” love that we see in our lives.

The mark of a true follower of Jesus is a purposeful and deliberate decision to do what Jesus would do. Jesus would offer love, yet He would also offer a way for redemption. We can’t offer redemption, but we can lead people to Jesus, who can give redemption. Perhaps it is this simple task that shows our love the most. We show a hurting world a means of grace and mercy.

What does your life show?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Are you hopeful and confident in your faith?

April 26, 2021

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Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living
©

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
(John 14:3 (NIV))

Every believer clings to this verse!

Have you ever stopped to contemplate why we cling to this verse? I am certain that each of us have our own reasons, but everything truly comes down to how we view God and how we view this world. I honestly believe that we cling to this verse because we don’t like the sinful, fallen nature of the world in which we find ourselves living. We cling to this verse because we despise the fact that God’s goodness is called evil and what God calls evil is called good. We cling to this verse because we long for His righteousness to prevail over this fallen world. We cling to this verse because we long to be in the presence of the Lord! In just a few words, God has given us so much to reflect upon and so much to rejoice about.

These words are filled with a promise that we can trust.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV))

These words solidify in our minds the greatness of God’s love for us by providing details of how that love will manifest itself for all of eternity.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16 (NIV))

Perhaps the biggest aspect of this verse is the unbridled hope that it gives the person who professes a belief in Jesus, and from that hope, faith matures!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1 (NIV))

In essence, if there is no hope, then confidence cannot develop. If there is no confidence, then faith cannot grow. Without hope, we are lost!

Jesus planted hope with these words. He gave us the confidence of His promises, and He instilled in each believer the seed of faith with the promise to prepare a place for those who believe. He didn’t stop there. He took it to the next level by proclaiming that He would return for those whom He has prepared a place! These few words give us a reason to persevere in the face of adversity. They give us a reason to face the world even when the world seems to be targeting us and has us directly in its cross hairs. These words help us to remember the power and the promise that Jesus spoke for those who believe.

With the events of this world, it seems that the enemy is doing his best to destroy the hope of everyone, but in particular, he wants to destroy the hope of those who profess a faith in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. We must not lose the hope that we have through Jesus, for if we lose the hope that makes us confident, then faith is also lost. When the world is getting you down, look up! Look up and imagine the place that Jesus is preparing for you. Look up and pray for strength to continue to be faithful. Look up and pray to continue to be confident. Look up in hope!

Are you hopeful and confident in your faith?

Copyright 1998 – 2021 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
http://www.dailylivingministries.org
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